2022-07-16 David Roberts talking about conservatism

David Roberts (@drvolts): What the hell, a thread.

Start with Frank Wilhoit's famous formulation: "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect."

In groups & out groups. Conservatism is about defending the privileges of current in groups; liberalism is about working toward a society of peers, in which all people are equal in the eyes of the law. That's the most basic division.

Thing is, though, people truly & deeply committed to multiracial democracy are likely a minority even in the Dem coalition. Rather, the Dem coalition contains lots of groups that are currently shut out but want in.

When I worked at Grist I once went to a high-dollar fundraiser for ... Kerry? First Obama? Can't remember. Anyway, it was thrown by a gay group & I ended up chatting with one older gay guy -- maybe 50yo -- for quite a while. I'll never forget what he said.

He pointed to all the wealthy gay folks schmoozing at the party and said, "take a good look, David. In a few years they will all be Republican." I was like, what, why?! He said, "right now there's discrimination & abuse we have to fight. Once that changes and we're accepted ..."

"... we're all going to revert to voting for lower taxes. We're natural Republicans." I found that so harrowing. But it does highlight the fact that many out-groups, once they're let inside, will absolutely turn & defend the status quo. They will respond to being let in ....

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